Wearing green and drinking alcohol are all that people think about when someone says “March 17th” or “Saint Patrick’s Day.” But what is Saint Patrick’s Day actually all about? When I ask Americans what they know about Saint Patrick’s Day, they say it is a day to wear green and party. As an Irish student studying here at R-MC for the year, I want to share what Saint Patrick’s Day means to me.
Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, but he was not actually Irish. He was captured from Scotland by Irish raiders when he was fifteen, and then brought to Ireland to work on a mountain and shepherd sheep. After a couple of years, he escaped back to Scotland, but soon returned to Ireland with the mission to teach the pagan Irish about Christianity. He used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity, which is why the shamrock is a national emblem of Ireland today. There are many legends associated with Saint Patrick. One of these legends is how he banished all snakes from Ireland to explain the absence of snakes in the country. There are many different stories about Saint Patrick, so even though the facts about where he was from and what he actually did will vary greatly, the heart of all of the stories is that he brought Christianity to Ireland. He died on March 17, 493, which is why his feast day is on that day every year.
Saint Patrick’s Day has evolved from a typically religious holiday to a holiday that celebrates culture and everything Irish. It is a national holiday in Ireland and celebrations occur in every part of the country and around the world. Everyone puts on green clothing, wears a bunch of shamrocks, and spends the day at parades and in bars. This is where a lot of the same traditions seen here in America can be seen in Ireland. Parades on Saint Patrick’s Day actually started in the United States because of the huge populations of Irish-Americans in cities like New York and Boston. Even today these cites may see a bigger celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day than other places due to their large populations. However, if you really want the true Saint Patrick’s Day experience, there is only one place to be…Ireland!
To everyone at R-MC, have a fun and safe St. Paddy’s Day!
-Emma Clartin ’17, Contributing Writer